An American soldier opened fire on villagers near his base in southern Afghanistan Sunday and killed 16 civilians, according to President Hamid Karzai, who called it an “assassination” and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington. Nine children and three women were among the dead.
The killing spree deepened a crisis between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts over Americans burning Muslim holy books on a base in Afghanistan last month. The Quran burnings sparked weeks of violent protests and attacks that left some 30 dead. Six U.S. service members have been killed by their Afghan colleagues since the burnings came to light, and the violence had just started to calm down.
President Barack Obama phoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express his shock and sadness at the killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. He offered condolences to the grieving families of those killed and to the people of Afghanistan.
The attack began around 3 a.m. in two villages in Panjwai district, a rural suburb of Kandahar and a traditional Taliban stronghold where coalition forces have fought for control for years. The villages — Balandi and Alkozai — are about 500 yards (meters) from a U.S. base. The gunman went into three houses and opened fire, said a resident of Alkozai, Abdul Baqi, citing accounts from his neighbors. One villager said eleven of those killed were members of his family, many of them women and children.
The tensions between the two countries had appeared to be easing as recently as Friday, when the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding about the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan control — a key step toward an eventual strategic partnership to govern U.S. forces in the country. Sunday’s shooting could push that agreement further away.
Source: Yahoo News